During four career treks, students met with alumni working at places ranging from Google to the Department of the Treasury.
This spring, 11 students and a staff member traveled to Annapolis and Washington, D.C., for one of the four new “Amherst Careers In” trek pro- grams. The students—from different majors and class years—spent several days visiting sites and taking part in panels and discussions with alumni in government and nonprofit sectors.
Alumni detailed their diverse paths since college and encouraged students to see government and nonprofit careers as avenues for change. “I was surprised by the breadth and scope of careers in public service,” said Christina Won ’15. “Whether it’s a government post or a nonprofit, there are so many alumni working for the social good and doing so on vastly different paths.”
Treks are one of many resources offered through the “Amherst Careers In” initiatives, which began as a student- alumni collaboration in 2012, when Charles “Chuck” Ashby Lewis ’64, P’93 and Daniel Alter ’13 joined together to help strengthen a Career Center pro- gram that advises and mentors students interested in education. (For roughly 16 percent of Amherst alumni, the first job post-graduation is related to education.)
Chuck and Daniel wanted to help students build on skills they’d learned at Amherst so they would be classroom- ready. Today, the Amherst Careers
In Education Professions program is funded through the Lewis-Sebring Fam- ily Foundation and has a dedicated staff member.
Careers In Education Professions and the well-established Health Professions program were the first of these initia- tives offered through the Career Center. Similar programming is now in place for five other areas: law, science and tech- nology, business and finance, and arts and communication. In all seven pro- grams, students learn from alumni and potential employers and have the chance to take part in internships and treks.
“I was able to imagine myself in a similar situation in just a few years,” said Christina Won ‘15.
The focus of an Amherst education is on the liberal arts, but through the Career Center, students have resources and support for more comprehensive career preparation. Each year the center expands and strengthens its “Careers In” initiatives through the generous support of alumni. Doug Grissom ’89, who provided funding for Careers In Business and Finance, recalled the chal- lenges he faced as a recent graduate nav- igating the business world. He wanted to ensure that current students feel well- equipped as they start their careers.
“Amherst provides a top-notch education, and the world needs more well-rounded liberal arts graduates, especially in business and finance,” said Grissom. “I want Amherst to continue doing what it does best—providing an outstanding liberal arts education—and for the Careers In Business and Finance Program to have the resources to pre- pare students for life after Amherst, through internships, networking and counseling. I also hope that my gift inspires other graduates to fund addi- tional ‘Careers In’ programs.”
ON THE MOVE In California (right), students learned "an incredible amount about career paths in the entrepreneruial space." In Maryland, trekkers met with State Delegate Sandy Rosenberg '72 (above.)
This year, thanks to generous support from Lewis, Grissom, Sandy Rosenberg ’72 and Richard Stoddart P’15, as well
Alumni urged students to use Amherst asa spring- board for careers that excite them as the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Career Center strengthened the “Careers In” programs and offered four treks: the government and nonprofit trek, an innovation trek to California, an education trek to Boston and a commu- nication trek to Chicago. The treks were highly selective: each had only 12 spots available. Expenses were covered by alumni, grant and College support.
The strong Amherst alumni network makes these treks especially distinctive. A common theme was student gratitude for the more than 50 alumni who of- fered insights and advice. In California, students visited alumni at Facebook, Google, tech startups, private equity firms and even a vineyard. Alumni shared their sometimes unexpected ca- reer paths, giving students the space to rethink goals and consider how to lever- age their education in emerging fields.
In Maryland, State Delegate Sandy Rosenberg ’72 talked about how that state’s General Assembly functions. “It helped us get a better sense of what gov- ernment on the local level looks like and appreciate how much gets done by each state,” said Emera de los Santos ’17.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Sarah Bloom Raskin ’83, P’17, 14 en- couraged students to be guided by what sparks their intellectual curiosity. Micah Stewart ’17 came away with “a sense of the range of paths to pursue after gradu- ation and how my time at Amherst can be best spent preparing for a career in the public and nonprofit sector.”
On each trek, alumni spoke about the necessity of “soft skills,” but also about the importance of drawing connections across diverse subjects, analyzing prob- lems and applying critical thinking to solutions—all classic skills acquired in a liberal arts education.
Through the “Careers In” initiatives, Amherst is offering students a struc- tured way to explore their interests. What’s more, it’s helping them articulate what they’ve gained through their edu- cation. An Amherst education provides a foundation for success across a wide range of careers and other pursuits. The Career Center helps students sharpen the skills they already have.